Host Bill Heid has a spiritual conversation with award-winning screenwriter and a true Renaissance man, Brian Godawa. Godawa uses his left and right brained thinking to bring a modernization to ancient theologies. Heid and Godawa talk about the history involved with ancient theologies and how the perception that people create can be misguided by cultural inconsistencies.
Then for the second half of the show things heat up when the talks shift to big agriculture and big government’s position on raw milk. For the second half of the show, Heid is joined by his son, Nick Heid and his friend and writer, Tom Kocal. Tom and Nick are both passionate about raw milk but their passion was stoked by a local trip to Bloomington, Illinois.
During the meeting in Bloomington they learned that the person that was pushing for legislature regarding raw milk was the very same person who was saying that people could only consume raw milk if legislation was passed to make it legal… WAIT… are you telling me that the government is saying that everything that is not made legal through legislation is actually perceived to be illegal?
Off The Grid Radio
Release Date May 16, 2013
Announcer: Welcome to Off the Grid Radio. Better ideas to bust you and your family out of today’s global control grid. Now, here’s today’s show.
Aaron: Hello and welcome to Off The Grid News with Bill Heid and I’m Aaron Fullan. Today we’re excited to be interviewing Brian Godawa (sp). Bill, I happen to know you’re very excited about this interview.
Bill: I am very excited, Aaron. I’m always excited to talk to Brian. Brian is a very unusual guy, as our listeners are going to find out.
Aaron: I’m excited to hear him as well, then. I’ve actually never met him, so I’ll be interested to hear everything he has to say.
Bill: Fantastic. Can you tell us a little bit about him?
Aaron: I sure can. Brian Godawa has been a professional filmmaker, writer and visual artist for many years. His creative versatility was born of a passion for both intellect and imagination, both left brain and right brain. The result? Brian is an artisan of word, image and story that engages heart, mind and soul. Just think Renaissance man, and that’s Brian. He is the screenwriter for the award-winning feature film To End All Wars, staring Kiefer Sutherland. Previously Brian adapted to film the best-selling supernatural thriller novel, The Visitation, by Frank Peretti. Brian’s scripts have won multiple awards, and his articles on movies and philosophy have been published around the world. He has traveled around the United States, teaching on movies, worldviews and culture on colleges, community groups. His popular book, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment, has ben released in an advised edition by InterVarsity Press and is used as a textbook in schools around the country. Which, I actually did have to read, Bill, when I was in college.
Bill: That’s what I understand! Required reading.
Bill: All right. Is that Aaron?
Aaron: That is it. If you want to visit his website, it’s www.gadowa.com.
Bill: All right. Welcome, Brian! How are you today, sir?
Brian G.: I’m doing well. And you?
Bill: I’m fantastic. Thanks so much for joining us. There’s a creature – and I don’t know if you’re one of those creatures – but there’s a creature so weird and twisted and hideous and more unusual than the nephilim. Do you want to know what it is?
Brian G.: What, pray tell?
Bill: What, pray tell? It’s a guy that’s been influenced by both Mike Heiser and R.J. Rushdoony. Is there a name like nephilim, like that? Is there some other name for a guy that’s been influenced by those two?
Brian G.: Heiserdoony.
Bill: Yeah, Heiserdoony. So anyway, your book is fantastic. I want to talk to you a little bit about just general worldview, as we were talking with Aaron before, what it is that you do. What it is that you’re up to. We’ve read your bio, so we know that, but this book, Abraham Allegiant, is part of something bigger. It’s part of something with respect to a bigger book series, but it’s also part of something that is different that you kind of bring to the table that not a lot of other people bring to the table. And one of the reasons you’re required reading in colleges. So talk about how you got to the place, Brian, where things started to turn on for you. Lights started to turn on and you said, “Hey, the universe is constructed in a certain way,” and there’s a narration issue here. You’re going to start to tell. How did all that happen with you, originally?
Brian G.: Well, it was many years ago when I was in college actually, I was an artist and I’m really one of those guys where, “God created me this way because it’s definitely inherent in me.” I think like an artist. I tend to sort of stand outside the crowd often. See things from a different perspective, etc. But when I became a Christian I fell in love with Jesus Christ and I also loved theology and philosophy, so I pursued theology, philosophy, and apologetics. And what happened to me was that I had a sort of typical, evangelical, bifurcated worldview where it’s like secular and sacred dichotomy, you know? Where the spiritual things in life – the praying, the fellowships, the Bible reading, blah, blah, blah – and then the kind of necessities, like cooking, cleaning up, having a job, going to your day job, etc. These are like the secularist things, and I tended to think that way, so I had this, like a bi-polar brain, you know? I’ve got this artistic side of me, but then my thoughts became sort of more intellectualized. Because of my philosophy and such. But I read Francis Schaeffer, and that started to change my whole understanding. I started to understand the nature of worldview and how worldview does affect, how worldview basically prescribes our perception of the world and helps us to see things that we wouldn’t normally see. But also worldview can block us some things we could see. And as I studied it more, I kind of learned a little bit more about the origins of works. Francis Schaeffer got that from (inaudible 5:39)… and pre-suppositional thinking and that kind of a thing.
But what happened was, it took many, many years … I almost feel like, in recent years, so to speak, relatively speaking, was that I realized I’ve developed these two approaches, and it was like a spiritual life that was more intellectual and philosophical and worldview-oriented, actually, because I just loved that side of me and began to understand how that affects everything we say and do. But at the same time, I had also sort of kept my art in a separate realm. In other words, I would approach the Bible from an intellectual standpoint and see it through modernist eyes. In other words, these eyes would look at a text and say, “What do pure and verifiable, what is rationally consistent and logical,” these kinds of things. And in recent years, you know, I started studying more the imagination side of scripture. I basically had a very similar experience to what C.S. Lewis had, where, you know, I started realizing that the limits of rationality, and while rationality and logic are definitely a part of God’s nature and even a part of our faith and the biblical text, I started realizing though how much more imagination was a part of God’s communication to man, and how much I had neglected that side in my faith. While I had nurtured it in my artistic life in the art I created, it was kind of neglected in my faith. How do you do that? How do you incorporate your understanding of God with imagination? How does that all work? Because of course, when you’re raised in the typical modernist, evangelical tradition, imagination is dangerous. You can’t really talk about the Bible beyond the obvious parables of Jesus. You can’t talk about the mythological elements in the Bible or whatever because that, of course, you start down a slippery slope of liberalism then, and “You don’t believe the Bible is true! You believe it’s all figurative.” And all this kind of stuff.
Bill: Or Brian, in many cases, people say the Bible is literal and I think when people say the Bible is literal and that becomes sort of a basis for some theological groups, I think what they want to mean is the Bible is true.
Brian G.: Yes.
Bill: But when you say that, you do – like Darby and others – I think you sort of impose an irrationalistic framework on the Bible, and I think that really is kind of dangerous, because the Bible is poetic, right? There is a lot to say that does kind of flex the imaginary side and it’s not all wired the way we were taught in Sunday school.
Brian G.: Exactly. And why is that? Well, the main heart of that is, to help me make a better transition, I think, toward integrating both that intellect and imagination, but also sort of exploring a neglected area of Christian faith, that is the imagination of God and the imagination of the Bible. The thing that sort of helped me to make that transition better was what I also consider to be kind of a movement in current Christianity, and that is a movement toward appreciating and learning more about the ancient near-Eastern background of the Bible. And so therefore, in other words, the Bible is not written to modern, post-Enlightened, scientific Western Americans. I mean, this is sort of obvious, but we often don’t really realize the implications of it. It was written to ancient Jews, steeped in Old Testament scriptures and in the ancient near eastern worldview, and there’s lots of elements that are a part of that that are alien to us. And so the bottom line is, yes, there is not plain reading of the text of the Bible, through our Western eyes. Because if we just read it as a plain reading, we’re actually going to misread it because we’re going to miss a lot of the cultural nuances that are embedded in the text. I’m not saying that therefore the Bible is this esoteric book that you cannot understand. Obviously not. But there’s much of misunderstand that has occurred because we impose our western – like I said scientific or literalistic viewpoints – and we need to get back to understanding, “What does the text mean to those who read it? To those who wrote it and those who read it?” And some of these elements – we can talk about some specifics because I don’t want to be too abstract here – but some of these elements that I started to look into really changed my understanding and actually I got a much more appreciation for the scriptures.
For example, Leviathan. Leviathan is one of my favorite ones because you read these verses on Leviathan and you kind of get the impression, “Oh, yeah, it’s talking about maybe a whale or large sea monsters or whatever.” And you read chapters like Psalm 74 or Isaiah 27 or Psalm 89 that talks about Leviathan or Rahab, which is another word, same thing. And you think, “Oh yeah, talking about God’s glory and greatness. Because He’s so great that even the large sea whale is just incomparable to his strength,” or whatever. And it’s just this general poetic metaphor. But, that’s not in fact what’s going on there. Because when you look into the ancient near eastern religion, as well as the worldview, you find that Leviathan is a very popular notion that’s in all the other religions. All the other cultures. It’s the image of a sea dragon, and this sea dragon often has multiple heads, sometimes seven heads or for example in Canaan, and sometimes it’s called Tiamat in Babylon, but this sea dragon is a very clear symbol of chaos that the gods holds at bay or conquer in order to establish their creative order. So for instance, when Babylon was established and Hammurabi wrote the text and he says Marduk, their god, conquered Tiamat, the sea dragon, and held him back and created the mighty heavens and the earth, which is the kingdom of Babylon. So all this poetic language is going on, but it’s very, very common, because you have the same thing going on in the Bible. So when you read something like Psalm 74, you read about God describing how when He established his new covenant order, not new covenant, but the covenant order in Sinai with Moses, he held back the seas and it says in Psalm 74, that you crush the heads of Leviathan. Multiple heads in there, right? So that’s a mythopoeic image in the Bible, and it’s not saying, “Oh, they believed in mythical creatures.” No. It’s a poetic way of God saying he held back the chaos of the world and he established his covenant order with these people. So that’s just one example.
Bill: That’s a good one, Brian. But let me interrupt you just a second to sort of… because I think it starts to make people a little nervous. I’ll tell you how we got into this, I won’t say mess, but good and well-meaning people got nervous in the early 1800s when folks started to sort of deconstruct the text and sort of said that the Bible maybe wasn’t true.
Brian G.: Right.
Bill: So then I think the polar opposite – there’s a ditch on both sides – so guys grabbed that and said, you know, “Look, we see what archeology is doing, so we don’t want our narrative to just be one of the near-Eastern narratives,” because that’s what the liberal professors are saying and it scares us. So we teach our kids, no, the Bible is distinct. So as someone with an apologetics background, what’s the first thing you say to put somebody back? Because you’ve got two ditches – one saying, “It’s no longer relevant, one of many near eastern texts.” And then you’ve got people grabbing it and imposing a rationalist framework on it, and saying, “No, it has to be read in terms of the post-Enlightenment motif.” And really, both sides are missing the essence of the narrative.
Brian G.: Yeah, and I think that the either/or mentality that also infects a lot of evangelicalism is another element of the modernist paradigm. This is where we’ve got to start realizing that, as much as Christians like to reject modernity, in terms of the Enlightenment and such, we’ve been just as affected by it in ways that we don’t realize, and we’ve got to start attacking those ways and realizing that by addressing our cultural biases … it’s so easy for us to look and point out everyone else’s cultural biases, right? But we need to turn that on ourselves and start being honest with, “What are my cultural biases, and how I may be misinterpreting things because I’m imposing upon it something I think was just the Bible. But no, it’s not just the Bible. Maybe I’m actually imposing my own worldview upon the text in a way that’s aiming to it.” And the only way you can do that it is to start turning the self criticism and look at your own bias and try to figure out what that is, and try to seek to study, to show the self improved, and to study the background of the Bible and understand its context. And not be afraid to say, “It’s not either/or. That just because there are some similarities between two objects does not mean they’re the same. And just because there are differences between two objects does not mean they’re entirely different.” So, we need to be able to start trafficking in our understanding and imagination and in our theology, with an ability to notice and acknowledge what is true and not allow – like what is true in terms of similarities in the Bible and other ancient cultures – and not make the drastic, opposite conclusion that well, therefore it’s all the same. Because that’s not the case. That’s not the case in anything in our life! There’s never any absolute correspondence between things. And so just to acknowledge that is not to say that the Bible is just a myth, just like everything else.
Part of the way to understand that is, when you begin to understand that there’s a polemical nature to the text. So for instance when Israel is coming into the promised land, they’re facing the god Baal, who is the storm god and all of his culturally of gods and deities and pantheon of gods, and they’re coming into this land and God, of course we know through the Bible that Israelites often – sometimes for hundreds of years – would fall back and worship Baal and then they’d add all of those elements of pagan religion to themselves, and the prophets would have to come and try to strike that out. Well, here’s the thing though, when these people still use the same imagery and notion of the world around them. Just like if you and I, as Christians, we might use scientific language, but we don’t realize that is Einsteinian and post-Copernican scientific thinking, because that’s just the way we are. But that doesn’t mean that therefore we can’t use those notions in service to our God. So if they’re coming into the promised land and God sees god Baal, the storm god, and he brings the rains and holds back the sea and holds back the river and conjures the sea dragon, and therefore they use that same kind of imagery but use it of Yahweh, here’s how you understand it: if you understand the polemical nature, then you realize where the difference is. So the fact that they’re using the images of holding back the waters and the sea dragon, etc., you’re seeing them saying, he’s basically saying, “Baal is not God, Yahweh is God.” And in doing so, by accommodating to the human condition, just like Jesus – what do we say all the time? That Jesus is the intermediary between God and man, because he became man in order to become the perfect mediator. Well, it’s the same thing with the text. God is mediating to us through the text, and our humanity, so he’s using some of our cultural worldview elements of that time, to accommodate in order to communicate his truth. Because otherwise it’d be spoken as absolute truth of heaven, we wouldn’t understand it. That’s why Jesus used parables, because we don’t understand the true nature of the Kingdom of God. We have to have it told to us in stories that make sense within our cultural context.
Bill: And put all of those pieces together, using wisdom and the brains that God gave us. So, that said, Brian, let’s talk a little bit about the book. The book is a thriller. The book is fascinating. I commend you on it. And, if you pick the book up, it’s very difficult for someone who even has a modicum of interest in the Bible, to put it back down, because it’s like the Steppenwolf “get your motors running.” You’re heading out on the highway pretty early on this because of how it’s written, so what really … I’ll tell you where I first got a little bit of imagery, sort of a bit of flex myself – I needed a neck brace – reading Rushdoony’s commentary on Genesis. I got the idea of Abraham as this, I had this idea of him, and most sort of commentaries had this of him being sort of an agrarian and kind of a simple guy, that’s pretty much his life – and then Rushdoony pointed out to me that he had 318 warriors that he wasn’t afraid to use. And he wasn’t afraid to mix it up, as it were. And so …
Brian G.: Well, he led them. He led them in a battle against five kings with thousands of men. Now, here’s the thing – Abraham’s life, if you think about it, the Bible doesn’t really say much about Abraham’s life until he has Isaac, right? And there are basically just a couple of moments where it says God visited and said, “I will give you people,” and he gives the covenants to Abraham. But it’s not until he’s 100 years old that he has Isaac, and there’s really only a couple of passages before that that give stark references of the whole previous 100 years. So we don’t really know much about Abraham. But in the middle of all of these references about how he’s a shepherd, or at least a nomad, traveling nomad, all the sudden there’s Genesis 14, and that’s where Lot, his nephew, gets captured by these five kings as they pillage the countryside, and then they take Sodom and take a bunch of booty and take a bunch of captives. And then he leads his 318 men along with probably, he didn’t say how many, but he had a couple of allies with him, so maybe they had a couple thousand men, and they track down these thousands of men army and get Lot back and take the booty back. And so, all the sudden, you realize there’s this little clip in the Bible that reveals Abraham was a warrior, because there’s no way he could lead his men unless he was, you know?
Bill: You bet.
Brian G.: And so, yeah. That was inspiring to me to say, “Oh, he fits within the storyline that I’m telling.” And so I decided to write a book, a story about all that in between stuff that we don’t hear in the Bible, but still make it consistent with the Bible and to focus on a theological novel, not a “Well, this is historically what happened.” Because, look, let’s be honest folks – even if you try to write a historical novel about what it really may have been for Abraham, it’s still fictional! You’re making stuff up, you know? I tried to be true to the original culture. I tried to bring in a lot of imaginative elements of that culture, but also be consistent with it, but then also fill in the time that we don’t know about Abraham, like when he was young and when he met Sarah and all of this. But I did so by drawing – and I’m not making stuff up – but by drawing from ancient Jewish and Christian traditions. So, I would draw from books like the Book of Jasher or the Legends of the Jews that Ginzberg sort of coalated, some Talmudic emotion. And also some from the pseudepigrapha or inter-testamental literature that actually does give us some stories about what happened to Abraham before he was called, and when he was in Babylon and how he met Nimrod, who built the Tower of Babel. You know, this stuff is hinted at in the Bible and my goal here was just the sort of retell the stories of our traditions. So I have to admit that I’m not very original in that I’m using a lot of pieces from all other ancient traditions, but weaving it together in a modern storytelling context that’s like watching a movie.
Bill: But here’s where you are original. Here’s where I think it’s interesting. At least original in my eyes, Brian, is the context in which you put Abraham, chronologically, sort of defies – it makes biblical sense when you stop and think about it – but there’s some sense in which it defies Sunday school chronology. Because you have him living at the same time some of the folks were still living post-flood. And of course, we meet in your novel early on a character that could easily post Lebron James up on the inside – Nimrod – and this guy is an amazing guy. Of course, just talking about Nimrod is, just his name … and you do a wonderful job of talking about names and do a wonderful job in the appendix of sort of putting some context and giving us some more information, but talk a little bit about Nimrod, just the name, and who he was. Because I think that will really get the listener’s interest up about how Nimrod plays a part in this thing.
Brian G.: Sure. The Bible hints that Nimrod possibly – because it says the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Akkad and all of this, and then the Tower of Babel story we read. So there are hints in the Bible that in fact it may have been Nimrod, because he was a great hunter and a great leader, that he had been the one that actually built the Tower of Babel. But, anyway, his name actually means to “rebel or revolt.” And it’s kind of interesting because, you know, people don’t actually name themselves those kinds of names, so the Bible actually engages in a lot of name-calling, like twisting of names in order to communicate the meaning, so we don’t know exactly what his name may have been. But the biblical interpretation is that he is the symbol of rebellion and revolting against God, right? And the Bible does this with a lot of other names, you know, like Beelzebub. The actual name in Canaan was Beelzubul which means “Baal is prince” – that’s Baal, the false god of Canaan, right? – but the Bible says Beelzebub, which means “lord of the flies.” So, the Bible is making a derogatory renaming of a deity, and that goes on with a lot of names in the Bible. So, that’s one of the first elements of Nimrod. And then there’s a lot of traditions of him building the tower and if you look at the strict chronology, the genealogies, it indicates that Abraham may have been around during Nimrod’s time. Now, that’s not the only interpretation. Academically, there are scholars that make strong biblical and conservative support for the belief that Abraham was like 1,000 years later than the tower of Babel. And that’s fine too. They’re different theories, and we don’t really know for sure, and that’s the bottom line. So I chose one particular strain in order to tell the story, because it fit best with my storyline, you know? Maybe you’re compressing some time in history because when you’re writing a novel, you can’t right about everything, that kind of thing.
So, I write about this and how Abraham is God’s chosen vessel, right? His chosen seed. And then Nimrod sort of becomes the symbol of the opposite of that. And, Nimrod becomes the man – when he discovers God chooses Abraham and Nimrod wants to be the world’s first potentate, right? – And he seeks after that in order to kill Abraham and when he doesn’t do that and God disperses the nations and just, you know, the confusion of tongues and the Tower of Babel … well, you know, it says that it would disperse. So Babel itself was a kingdom that was, at that time, would just dissolve. So imagine this king – the world’s first potentate – having his kingdom completely dissolved and broken apart. What would happen to that man? Well, if he didn’t kill himself – which many people would – I don’t have Nimrod killing himself. I have him realizing, “I’m completely destroyed from the top of the world back to nothing and I’m not going to kill myself because I know the man God’s chosen, so I’m going to spend my life trying to seek him down and killing him.” So Nimrod becomes this obsessive, crazy guy that ends up trying to seek out Abraham and kill him. Meanwhile, Abraham is, you know, taking his journey that God told him, to go to Canaan and all of that. And so, it’s this exciting story. We haven’t even talked about the other side of things, which is the giants that the Bible says are in the land of Canaan.
Bill: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Brian G.: So, you know, Abraham goes to the land of Canaan and there are giants there. And there are all kinds of references in Joshua to the origins of the Anakim or the giants or nephilim in Canaan, in the Bible where it says Joshua goes. Well, it says they come from the sons of Anak, and Anak’s father was King Arba, and there was a city called Curious Arba in the Bible, and that was the place where Arba was. Well, it doesn’t say when Arba lived, but if you look at it, he was probably around the time of Abraham. And guess what? When Abraham goes into the Promised Land, well he goes into Canaan, where he spends most of his time is by the oaks of Mamre, and the oaks of Mamre are two miles from Curious Arba, the city of the great giants. So, I have Abraham interacting with the ancestor of the Anakim before Israel comes into the Promised Land. So there’s this whole blood feud that starts between the sons of Anak, which come from King Arba, and I set all that up in the story and explain where it all comes from.
Bill: Which is a microcosm of another, we could call it, seed wars, right?
Brian G.: Exactly. And since we’re in the know here, I think this book will stand alone. It does. I try to write these books so you can read it alone, because if you love Abraham and you like to read the story, that’s great. However, you will get so much more out of it if you read it in context with the series. And Abraham Allegiant is actually the fourth book in the series. It starts with Noah Primeval, goes to Enoch Primordial, which is a prequel to Noah, right? And then it goes to Gilgamesh Immortal, which even though Gilgamesh is technically not in the Bible, I think there’s a lot of correspondence there. You’ll read the story and see what I mean. And then that leads into Abraham Allegiant. And if you’ve read it in a build-up, like where did Nimrod come from and all of that? And that’s in the rest of the book. So you would appreciate it much more if you read it in context, but I wrote it in a way that you can still appreciate it reading it as a standalone.
Bill: It’s a great book as a standalone, but do read the series, because as I’ve said Brian’s done the yeomen a service in creating a context for this stuff that is going to stretch your imagination. Brian, you know, I had to do a sermon at church here not too long ago, and I decided to do it a little bit on Nimrod because I know a lot of people are interested in where the current flow of zeitgeist is, with respect to tyranny in our country. And here with Nimrod, what’s fascinating – at least this is some of the stuff I found in my study – is that there are those that have done commentaries that sort of had referred to Nimrod as the first tyrant. And you were talking about “hunter of men,” and I get this – it’s not very many of these commentators, it’s a handful. You have to read through a hundred commentaries to get these little gems, and I know your journey must have been a long one because mine was too – but even reading the Chaldean paraphrases and stuff, are really fascinating and what I thought was interesting, kind of – and maybe you can comment on it a little bit, it’s a little out of the focus of conversation – but when the Geneva Bible came over, was printed and came over to this country, one of the texts – and I thought you’d get a kick out of this – if you look early in Genesis 10 and 11, in the Geneva Bible, it says he was a mighty hunter before the Lord, and it goes on to say, “His tyranny came into a proverb as hated both God and man, for he did not cease to commit cruelty, even in God’s presence.” And it just hit me, when you said that, when King James and a lot of the other kings had the Bible translated, they scrubbed all of that reference to tyranny because they didn’t want leaders associated with tyranny. And so, we were talking about …
Brian G.: Interesting.
Bill: Isn’t that interesting? We were talking about what our traditions are, and I think, as you sort of pointed out well, we all have traditions and the people that say they don’t have traditions are probably the biggest offenders. That’s been my experience. And I know I have mine. So it’s important to know that we have them. But you find this as part of our traditions – Sunday school versions of Abraham and Noah and all of the characters – that you’ve done something really in broadening this out and making the brain stretch a little bit. And if nothing else, you’re going to have your brain stretched when you read this book.
Brian G.: That’s funny you say that, because you’ll also notice in the text – whenever we write a period piece or something about the past, all writers sort of incorporate a connection to the present in some way – and when you read Abraham Allegiant, you will definitely see a lot of similarities between the ancient world and the way they were ruling people in the government and modern day government in America. And shall we say Sodom and Gomorrah is very much like California or Los Angeles. So I definitely deal with the political implications of this socialist mentality we have today, where big government and government will save us – it was back then too. So you’ll see a lot of similarities and little subtle references in there that will be very entertaining to those who appreciate what’s going on there.
Bill: Yeah, you lit me up on a couple of different places. And I’ll tell you another one, this idea of a consolidation of power. Of course Nimrod’s interest in consolidating power right away. It’s one of the first things he does. It’s all about consolidation. And one of the parts reading about Babylon, and I lit up when I was reading Abraham Allegiant because I had Alfred Edersheim’s comments on the size of Babylon, and you sort of reflected that in there. His commentaries on this, in his estimation, it was five to 10 times the size of present-day London. So you think, that alone just says … these people that were primitive people living back then and here were are with iPads and iPhones and don’t we feel sorry for them because they didn’t have that, but you’re talking about something really amazing, Brian.
Brian G.: Yeah, it definitely is, and it does cut to the notion of ancient man and how, again, our modernist, bigoted, prejudice makes us look at ancient man and think, “Oh, they were primitive, because of course they believed in religion, and they didn’t have the technology we had, etc., etc.” But you really find that, no, when you look into their sociocultural context and just the way they operate in government, it’s very advanced. There’s a lot we can learn from them, actually. In fact, the first democracies, the first primitive democracies were in Mesopotamia in Sumer, which was like way in the beginning, 3,000 years before Christ. They invented writing and democracy and all this kind of stuff. So there’s a lot more advancement in ancient man than we’re willing to give them.
By the way, that brings up another thing. We have this other arrogance, where sometimes we’ll read the ancient stories and you kind of, if the writer decides not to try and use old language to make it sound like it’s the past – I have a sense of sarcasm, a lot of jabs, playfulness here and there, a lot of romance in the novel – and sometimes people say, “Oh, it sounds too modern.” Well you know what? That’s really arrogant, because guess what? We think our sophisticated humor of today – we’re sarcastic, our John Stewarts of today – and we think we’re sophisticated with our sarcasm … well guess what? The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written probably 7,000 years ago, 6,000 years ago – sorry, but that was loaded with sarcasm. So we’re not really any more advanced than they were, in terms of our social and cultural interactions and understandings. And so, they had, you know, the same kind of jabs, references, just cultural nuances and jokes and things like that, that we have today. It’s just in a different world. So I tried to make it when you read that, it’s like watching a modern-day movie, so you have the modern-ness that connects with us, but at the same time I still try to create a little sense of the ancient world and bring in some of the things that were different so you get a feel of, “Oh yeah, this was a different world but hey, human beings are the same over all the millennia,” and you can appreciate that while reading this.
Bill: Well, you certainly can, and you’ve made it easy to get it a lot of different ways. They can go to your website, which is www.Godawa.com and find it, or even www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com is the correct site, right?
Brian G.: It’s www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com, and I have tons of free scholarly articles that are behind a lot of the stuff I have, for those who want to go deeper, and I have tons of artwork. I even show pictures of all the characters and little descriptions of who they are. Illustrations of the monsters and events that occur in the story. A lot of fun stuff. And you can sign up there to get email updates from me. What I offer is, you can be involved with me as I make the series because I’ve actually had the fans who signed up for email updates on the website, they actually helped me to name the last four novels. They helped me name Gilgamesh, and then the rest of the novels as well, so I had a whole voting system and stuff. I want the fans to really get involved and interactive. So there’s a lot of fun stuff there.
Bill: Can I ask you a quick marketing question? You and I are both marketers, but I have an unusual question before I end this. You have a book here that doesn’t really appeal to … it’s not really an evangelical … maybe you get some people who stop by at the Christian booksellers convention, here in June – I hope that you do if you’re there – but it seems like it’s really sort of a niche, because the number of people who really appreciate this sort of thing. In other words, from my vantage point, it’s like a Dan Brown thing, only it’s a guy trying to be faithful to scripture and the only importation he’s doing, he’s doing with a lot of concern. He’s using a little license, but he’s doing it from the archeology that we have and the other ancient, near eastern texts that we have. So I’m just curious a little bit about your niche. As you’re writing it, did you ever feel like, “Whoa, who am I writing this to?” Or did you start out with that niche?
Brian G.: Yeah, you know that’s a very good question. Let’s put it this way – I’ve had almost no attacks on me. I was thinking, “Oh man, I’m dealing with mythological images and incorporating the Bible. People are going to think, ‘You’re saying the Bible is myth!’” No, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m writing a fantasy genre, and in the genre, you understand it’s about the theology, not about the history so much, right? You understand that and then you understand the point that’s being made. But I was surprised in that I haven’t been attacked by hardly anyone. Maybe it’s because I’m not popular enough yet. But, so far, everybody’s’ been loving it, and the people have been responding. And I’ve found that there is actually a large niche of Christians who really do like fantasy and what we call speculative fiction and this kind of a thing. I was actually kind of surprised because there is a large niche.
But there’s also another large group of people that are interested in the nephilim, in both Christian and non-Christian. The non-Christian side is connected to all the UFOs and the UFO conspiracy theories and all of this kind of stuff; Alex Jones and the nutball stuff. But it goes back to Zacharias fiction and the belief that – Ancient Aliens, you know that appears on the History Channel – that they believe that ancient aliens visited the planet and ignorant man misinterpreted them as God. And there’s that world of people that like to read this stuff. Now, my stories are in that world, but I turn it on its head and I actually show – no, what you say are ancient aliens are actually spiritual entities. And so there’s this whole crowd of people who are into that. Plus there’s a Christian version of what I call the nephilim crowd, or the nephilim nuts, and unfortunately it’s not always a positive thing, because they’re obsessed with this stuff. And the new movement in the end times interpretations – which I don’t necessarily agree with, but nonetheless – people have all these beliefs, right? And you know the Left Behind were the real popular once. Now, those guys are really into the nephilim because they think that in the end times, when the Anti-Christ comes, there’s going to be cloning of nephilim and all of this stuff. So Christians are very interested in this stuff because they think it relates to the end time. I don’t believe that, but there is that whole group of people who love reading this stuff. And I will admit, since I’m trying to be true to what I feel is theologically in there, it is the first half that they agree with, you see what I’m saying?
Brian G.: So those people like that stuff, and I’m okay with that. Because you don’t have to agree with everything to enjoy stuff, right? So there is a lot of potential, I think, for this storyline to sit with people. So that’s what I’m hoping for.
Bill: One quick caveat – in the Bible itself, and so here we are, we have to sort of give a warning. If you open your Bible, there’s some references to sex and violence, so warning: “Parents, don’t let your kids read the Bible.” But in real terms, we realize that there’s a sense of age-appropriateness for the Song of Solomon and some of these interesting things, but I like the idea that you do have some fabulous babes in your book. Sarah is certainly a head-turner, along with the text, and so you reflect that. I think you’ve done, again a wonderful job of doing that. But what age would you say, because I think there’s a lot of homeschool parents that listen to our show. A lot of people care about their kids and don’t want to jam their kids with something. But what age group? I know there’s a little wisdom thing, but what would you say, like, in your own family?
Brian G.: Yeah, well, unfortunately I don’t have kids, so I’m not going to be the best for that. I would say it’s about PG-13. But here’s what I tell people, because I have a lot of people ask that. I tell them, “It’s about PG-13. But, there is sexuality in there, but I write it very similarly to the Song of Solomon, which means I do a lot of hinting at, and a lot of referencing, but I don’t go too explicit. But I do deal with it, right? And then the violence, and the depravity – this is a very wicked world, but the violence and depravity, I’m not quite as bad as the Bible, but I’m close. In the sense that it’s not quite as bad as Ezekiel 16 or Ezekiel 23, but it’s close. So, which means, I will deal with all the forms of depravity that are out there, but I don’t describe in detail the things that they do. I make a lot of literary and poetic references. But I do deal with it, so that’s why I would say it’s about PG-13, and probably a mature teen. But here’s the other thing. God created sex, and that’s one thing we’ve got really fight against. We’ve got to fight against not just attacking negative sex, which creates a whole weird stereotype in which God doesn’t like sex and all of that, because we know that’s false. But we’ve got to fight by promoting proper sex and in my book, I’ve got good marriages – not perfect, but good marriages – with healthy sex lives and, you know, Abraham and Sarah, she’s very beautiful, and Abraham likes to try to fulfill that command that God said “I’m going to make a nation of people out of you.” Well, let’s keep trying at it, you know? And so there’s playfulness, but it’s all in the context of I have a good marriages and that’s something we need to show more of in our story. As well as, we have the evil people and greed and fornication, but if that helps a little bit.
Bill: It does.
Brian G.: I tell people, it’s not as bad as the Bible. But it’s close.
Bill: That’s a great way to phrase it, Brian. Folks, it’s a great piece in the series, a great piece for you and your teen level kids to sort of engage them in the culture, to engage them and create a little bit of a wider worldview for them. Brian, thanks for being on our show today. We’ll certainly put links to this on our site when we go live, with links to your stuff, and we’ll probably put a commercial or two. Take one of your spots and put it inside. So thanks so much for being with us.
Brian G.: Thanks for having me Bill.
Bill: You bet. We’ll be right back.
(End of Segment One)
(Beginning of Segment Two)
Announcer: Welcome back to Off The Grid Radio. Getting you ready to prepare for the worst.
Bill: And we are back in the studio. Now I’ve got with me on my side, Nick Heid. Recently got your degree – not your degree, but what would you call it?
Nick: License to practice law.
Bill: License to practice law. So I’ve got my son Nick here and our good friend Tom Kocal from the Prairie Advocate. So thank you very much both for joining us. We just got done talking a little bit about tyranny. Tyranny starting with Nimrod. We had Brian Godawa on our last show, guys, and we were talking basically about, how does tyranny form? And so that’s sort of a theological concept, a big picture kind of concept. And here we are, fast-forward, to the state of Illinois, and we’re talking about the particularity of tyranny. And in this case, raw milk. Recently, both Tom and Nick were at a hearing, I guess. In the state of Illinois, was it in Springfield?
Nick: Bloomington. A public meeting.
Bill: A public meeting, about raw milk. I think what’s happening here in this state are the rules are starting to change and Illinois wants to sort of tighten up. But their approach to what’s taking place has really kind of got people riled up a little bit. And Tom, do you want to start and tell us a little bit? You’ve written several articles about this already in the Prairie Advocate. People can go online and read at www.prairie-advocate-news.com, and find those articles, but why don’t you fill us in a little bit about what’s happening.
Tom: Well, first I’d like to thank you for having me. Nick had mentioned that this Bloomington meeting was a public meeting, when actually Molly Lamb, the director, pointed out several times
Bill: She’s the director of what?
Tom: Of Illinois Department of Public Health.
Tom: She’s a division chief with dairy and food and such. But she was pretty explicit about the fact that it was technically not a public meeting. It’s an advisory committee and it did not have legislative direction, which really makes it not a public meeting, per se. But that they did want to be open about it and transparent. Which is probably, in hindsight when you see how long it took them to actually invite raw milk producers and consumers in an advisory capacity, it took them several months and several meetings before they were even included in the conversation.
Bill: So who did they want to have on the advisory committee about raw milk? This is always good. What’s their idea of a good raw milk advisory committee?
Tom: Well, initially their idea – this started back in the fall of 2012 with the Department of Public Health – it seems what happened is they got a grant from the Food and Drug Administration because they adopted the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. So if the Food and Drug Administration is giving them grant money, they of course have to abide by federal law, which is, as somebody pointed out, definitely a conflict of interest.
Tom: But initially, the members of this committee were far outnumbered. In fact there was only one raw milk farmer that had been asked to participate at the January meeting. And when she got the information from the Department of Public Health, there was already a second draft amended for rules and regulations. Of course, she brought that up right away. “How come this is already the second draft the first time I’ve been invited?”
Bill: So the members of the advisory committee, they’re, at this point, big dairy?
Nick: Prairie Farms. FDA.
Bill: So there’s a guy from the FDA there?
Nick: The FDA says that raw milk is not fit for human consumption. It’s not a safe to consume. That’s the federal position. So interstate commerce on raw milk, and then you have Prairie Farms – you have Whitey’s Ice Cream, Dean’s Foods – you have all the big lobbies as far as the big dairies. You have the FDA, the government there, but you don’t have any of the farmers except for Donna sovereignty and
Bill: And she got there late, kind of. Figuratively.
Bill: So to begin with, the idea of the preset positions are stacked, it’s stacked with a lot of bureaucracy, and kind of what their idea of a good meeting for those folks would be is very little opposition and maybe paying a little bit of attention to it and nodding and smiling, but really they have what they want to accomplish in their heads already. Is that kind of what it seemed to you?
Tom: It was clearly evident that that’s what happened. Donna O’Shaughnessy the first meeting that she actually attended was the February 22 meeting, which was a conference call. Of course there were several people who called in from the pasteurized dairy industry, but that was the first meeting that there was actually input from the raw milk people. Small farmers and a couple of consumers. And they were very adamant about where these laws came from, why they needed them, what statistics did they have to back their premise that they needed to make rules and regulations. The Department of Public Health admitted they had none. They admitted that they were using ordinances passed and approved in other neighboring states like Wisconsin, Indiana, several that outlaw raw milk, and that’s what they were following. Other state’s ordinances without any real evidence that they needed to do it at all.
Bill: Well, my question is, and I know in this state, in my way into work I don’t see a lot of bodies on the side of the road from raw milk consumption – what is the data? Was that brought up by anybody who was at the meeting? How many people have been hurt, sick, injured, whatever, by raw milk? Did anybody say?
Tom: A lot of the evidence that they portrayed was from the Center for Disease Control, CDC. And they had statistics from like 1993-2006, which Leonard Shaffer, he’s a retired dairy farmer, who followed up on some of these statistics, and found that the vast majority of cases that they showered were actually more related to illegal cheese production, a lot of that cheese being made with pasteurized milk.
Bill: Wait a second. They took cheese from pasteurized milk and used it against the raw milk?
Tom: Used it to make illegal cheese, which is a key point there. They call it bathtub cheese. It’s very prevalent, they tell me, in larger communities. Big cities like Chicago.
Bill: Immigrants make that, maybe?
Tom: Quite possibly. And they make it, they sell it to some of their local neighborhood stories or people, and of course they get sick because they don’t have near the quality of cleanliness that some of the farmers that Nick and I have seen.
Bill: I hope they rinse their bathtub out when they’re done bathing before they make the cheese. Anyway, that’s another subject, but it’s totally unrelated from direct consumption, isn’t it?
Tom: Very unrelated.
Bill: And the point is you’re trying to mix metaphors, transpose data and turn it into something that it’s not.
Nick: One of the funny things about this too, the actual meeting that we were at, the Illinois Department of Public Health had an epidemiologist that came up and presented all this data. Kevin Reed, who was a consumer of raw milk from Chicago and was sitting there on the board, asking questions, asked her, “How much time have you devoted toward studying raw milk?” To which she responded, “Not very much.” He was asking her questions like, “When did you get notice of this meeting,” those kind of things. But the funny part of the meeting was when he asked her, “Okay, where did you find these?” And she conceded that she had found these reports online. He asked her point blank which search terms she’d used in Google to find these, hinting at the point of, “What did you type in – raw milk sickness? Or did you type in diary-related illnesses, or did you type in raw milk?”
Bill: Did she actually say what she did?
Nick: She did not.
Bill: But you can find anything you want to find on Google by, as you say, putting in the appropriate search terms. You’re going to find something. But I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like – we’ve had Dave Gumpert on the show before, talking about his book Raw Milk Revolution – and it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of hard data to support anything. But before this show, we were talking about just the bureaucracy, taking a look at how a bureaucracy analyzes something and I think it’s really fascinating. Because like we were talking about before with our previous guest, sort of before in a situation where you’ve got tyranny rising, the assumption is you have no right to consume this unless we so designate. Which, as I was saying, is a sovereignty issue, and places the locus of sovereignty from God and your liberty, liberty and your Christ, as we would say on the show, to a bureaucrat. To an agency. To man. And as we know, man is subject to all kinds of whims and he’s fickle. Certainly if we’ve learned anything from history, as George Santayana said, we know that people are fickle. And we know that law becomes arbitrary. You guys seeing, is this really … Tom, you follow freedom issues a lot personally, and what you cover in the paper. Is that kind of your take on this?
Tom: Absolutely. The fact that we have been granted – we as citizens – have been granted these inalienable rights by God. We are free people. We don’t need a state or any government to tell us when or where we can be free. We are free. This issue with raw milk was clearly pointed out by several of the consumers and the producers at both the February meeting and this meeting May 1 in Bloomington, that it’s basically self-regulatory. When Nick or I go to buy milk, I know exactly where I got it from. This milk wasn’t pumped into a bulk tank.
Bill: You don’t need a whole bunch of numbers, bulk tank numbers to go back and try to decode it, because you’ve got the guy right in your face.
Tom: That’s right. We know exactly where we got it from and we can probably even tell if it was our fault, because we had a dirty half-gallon container or if it was from the farmer. I was so impressed at this meeting. When I was meeting people, the consumers in particular, they would make a point to introduce them to “their” farmer. That’s what they would call them. “My farmer” is here too. They were proud of him. They have made a connection with these people that are producing a very healthy product that they put all their faith in, and they put their faith in these farmers and the feeling is reciprocal. There’s a sense of respect and connection –
Tom: What we are missing in this country today, with the big box stores and things like that. This is basic freedom, basic independence rearing its beautiful head.
Nick: And one of the confusing things about this, which shows the confusion within the Illinois government and the interagencies within Illinois, is you have a bunch of Illinois departments – Department of Agriculture, for instance – really promoting to “eat local, eat Illinois.” A lot of these initiatives throughout the government, how much more local can I get than driving a mile and a half down Spring Valley Road to go to Mark’s farm and buying milk? You can’t get any more local than that. It’s also worth talking about with regards to actual individual liberty. You look at what are the actual laws? This was brought up at the meeting. What are the actual laws in Illinois about raw milk? The only law in raw milk, which was kind of to our surprise down there, is that you can’t advertise it. That doesn’t have anything to do with raw milk, but that’s actually under the Illinois Drug and Cosmetic Act. People, and this is brought up at the meeting, the farmers were under the impression that there was a body of law, with regards to them. They’d been acting under the presumption that, A, you could sell it on the farm; B, the consumer had to bring their own container; and C, you couldn’t advertise. We found out when we’re down there that only C is actually the real thing, and that’s from the Illinois Drug and Cosmetic Act. And so, the Illinois laws – which there are none, apparently, outside of advertising – and you mentioned with regards to sovereignty, they actually told us down there that because there are no laws about it, it is therefore illegal to consume. So it wouldn’t be legal. What they’re trying to do is be our buddies – give us a hug, a handshake, and say it’s going to be okay and they actually say, “We’re trying to write these rules and regulations so that it will be legal for you to consume it.”
Bill: Let me get the premise here – if there’s no laws about something, it’s illegal? But just that phrase is a contradiction, because for something to be illegal there has to be a transgression of a law previously written. So did another human being actually say that phrase?
Tom: Absolutely. I have it recorded.
Bill: So somebody actually said that?
Nick: And the lady that did say that is the lady that admitted to starting up the need for these regulations, when asked who was the person that – and Kevin Reed, once again, started asking this question – who was the person that thought there was a need for these regulations? To which they kind of mumbled and did a bunch of stuff, and eventually Molly Lamb, the division chief, said, “It was me. I am the person.” So the person starting these is also the person saying, “You can’t do it unless I say so.” Which is, I think that’s kind of scary.
Bill: I mean, guys, do you think that’s something that she would apply to just raw milk, or if there’s no rules for, let’s say for example kite flying, that kite flying is illegal until we have some sort of law making it legal? Is that kind of what you’re getting from her?
Tom: If we don’t stand up as free citizens about this raw milk issue, whether you drink it or not, this is going to set a very bad precedent. Not only in this state, but nationwide. Nick, you’re an attorney. Since when does not having a specific law make something illegal? It’s absolutely absurd that she even said that. There’s no law that states whether or not I should put my right sock on before my left sock – does that mean I shouldn’t even be wearing socks? I mean, come on, Molly. You’ve got to be clear about this.
Bill: What’s Molly’s background? My guess is she probably had to go to school to get a degree or something, so she probably has … maybe she went, during the old Soviet Block days, maybe she went … how old would you say she is?
Tom: Boy, I wouldn’t want to get in trouble with that one.
Nick: She looked younger than most bureaucrats.
Tom: Let’s just say she’s younger than me.
Bill: In other words, she’s not Soviet Block era material. So she’s probably getting Soviet Block material from some university in this country. Someone has taught her that government … and let’s give Molly a little bit of a break. Do you think, is it said with just unbelievable arrogance, or is she sort of saying, “I really want to protect people and there’s this ‘eaten by alligators’ or ‘nibbled to death by ducks’ kind of problem with bureaucracy, right?” So someone gets eaten by an alligator it’s so apparent, you can see it, but the bigger danger is almost kind of the hapless dupe that has these ideological bents that thinks they’re doing the right thing. I’m not trying to paint her into a corner, but I’m just saying, “What’s your take on it?”
Nick: I think she’s a product of what our culture wants those kind of people to be. Mark Graber and I talked about this on the way down there, and this was something I brought up in the comments section, was we live in a society where everyone says, “What are my rights? I want my rights protected.” No one says, “What are my responsibilities to my neighbor, my culture, my family?” And she, in a like manner, is a product of the government who – you know, I went to law school. I had to read chunks of the Internal Revenue code. We had to read chunks of the Obama Care when it was being addressed – and you see this as this is the world that bureaucrats are brought into, is incomprehensible laws. You know, writing rules for the sake of rules. And Tom brought up a great point in the latest article of the Prairie Advocate, was he said, “Are they writing these rules, finding a problem, and then trying to diagnose the problem, just out of job security?” So this is the Illinois Department of Public Health. Their job, I guess, is to write rules and regulations. So if they don’t have any, they walk in and the box for “Wednesday rule making” is empty, they have to say, “Oh no. What do I do today? Well, the guy from Prairie Farms has been calling, mad about raw milk. Is this something we should address?” So they draft rules for the sake of drafting rules, which this is a clear case of in my mind.
Tom: You hit the nail on the head, Nick. My take on it is 100 percent is it’s basically them protecting their job, but creating rules and regulations is a part of that job. But their main concern should be public health and safety, in her division, regarding food and dairy. When there is no issue with raw milk problems – there are statistics that show there are very few problems with raw milk, the fact that everybody’s brought up itself regulatory – there really is no need to go this far. It’s way out of step.
Bill: Well, let me give you an example of how this system operates. There’s kind of a congruency of how it all operates together. So, if you just go to Google News – which you shouldn’t because Google’s a terrible situation too, part of the problem – but if you go to Google and type in “raw milk Illinois,” what do you get right now, today, live as we speak? Well, the first thing you get is in food safety news, which is going to get a high Google ranking, right Jeremy, because it’s probably linked to some government agency so the dot-gov things get higher links. So the news – what they say – is prioritized by Google as being more important than anything our friend Tom would say, because it’s just going to take a higher … it came from the government, so it has to be more important. That’s the first one, Illinois safety news – Illinois wants to tighten rules for on farm raw milk sales. The second one is the always-informative food poisoning bulletin, and the title is “Illinois changing rules on farm on unpasteurized milk sales.” And in the food poisoning bulletin, you have a list at the bottom of the page of all of the damage that’s been done by unpasteurized milk. And again, as you say, they’re very vague, Tom, about how they state. Like six outbreaks linked to unpasteurized milk in the U.S. Six. Think how many people drink unpasteurized milk. Six people that were, to use their phrases, were “linked,” so that’s a whole lot of I don’t know what that means. They do their best to use language to sort of try to say, “This really can kill people.”
Nick: And that link, a lot of times, like one of the people on the board brought up, that link is oftentimes a farmer at a dairy who would normally pasteurize milk. You know, your guys who sell to Prairie Farms – Dean, those guys – they, a lot of times what happens, is they take that raw milk and sell it on the side to somebody who then goes and makes products out of that raw milk. Which isn’t that same raw milk that I drink. I think most Prairie Farms and Dean guys, if you ask them, would you go in and take a cup, dip it in your bulk tank and drink it, they would say no. So that’s not the same raw milk that I drink. But I think a lot of those are so tenuous, that it’s actually the wrong kind of unpasteurized milk. It’s the milk coming from a bulk tank that no one would drink in their right mind. Making cheese out of that, and then that’s the link to raw milk. It’s not even raw milk.
Tom: Well, several of the raw milk farmers pointed out that over the years the dairy co-ops like Prairie Farms and Deans will not purchase milk from a small farmer if they sell raw milk, too. So they’re kind of being blackmailed, inadvertently, saying, “You either sell to us, or nobody.” And that’s what prompted a lot of these people to basically just go with the raw milk. They have the market, they’ve reduced some of their herds and they’re all pasture-raised, eating grass like cows were meant to be, very healthy stress-free environments. How can you possibly go wrong? But the state feels different.
Bill: Well, it’s amazing too, and I think Nick grew up in a world – back in Stockton – where we drank milk from the bulk tank and didn’t know we were getting all kinds of beneficial bacteria and these kinds of things, that advocates of raw milk will talk about. We just thought that’s what you did. There was no real, “Hey, these guys are onto something amazing.” It was just, you go up to the bulk tank and you take a container up there and scoop it up and you shoo away the flies, right? There can be flies and people still don’t get sick. Hello? You get the milk and go drink it. If you don’t drink it all, you put it in the refrigerator, and nobody died. Everybody, really, was quite healthy. I know that’s not a peer-reviewed study, but everybody was really healthy that drank out of the bulk tank, compared to – and these are football players, basketball players, athletes among others, big families that kind of drank out of the bulk tank – so to me it seems like common sense. And so much has changed in, well, depending on how old you are, but so much has changed since Nick was a little boy and we were drinking milk out of the bulk tank until now. It’s unbelievable how far we’ve come. Just with this ever-encroaching, bureaucratic machine. I suppose when people are talking at the meetings, guys, the bureaucrats that are listening, do you think there’s any impact? In other words, when someone creates a positive case – and it sounds like the raw milk communities are articulate at the meeting – does somebody on the advisory board or Molly say, “Gee, that’s a good thought. I’d never really thought about it before.” Or does it just kind of, lines are drawn, and, “We need to hear you out because this is an official meeting, but I’m looking at my clock and as soon as you’re done I’m going to punch out and go home.”
Nick: It was very much like that. You could tell their agenda was set. In fact – I’m going to butcher his name – but Steve DiVincenzo, who is a higher up than Molly, is that right?
Tom: He works for Molly.
Nick: Oh, he works for Molly. All right. Steve had the gall at one point in the meeting that it was the people of Illinois calling for these regulations. To which the people sitting there, all raw milk advocates, saying, “Well, where are they? Who cares?” Because you either drink raw milk or you don’t care about raw milk. The average kid in Chicago or Rockford or Carbondale or anywhere doesn’t care about raw milk. They either care about raw milk, or have no idea and don’t care who drinks it. And so it’s a funny thing for them to come out and use their justification saying, “We’re here to protect the Illinois public. The public is clamoring for these restrictions and rules against this dangerous substance that is unfit for human consumption.” Really?
Bill: That’s like something that Chairman Mao would say. In other words, “The voice of the people is represented by the Communist party, and I represent the Communist party.” That’s basically what he’s saying, a Maoist sort of … but it’s just become commonplace. No one is saying, “Hey, what you said, that’s a quote from Chairman Mao I think we’re so dead to history that no one will stand up, as you were saying Tom, and say, “Hey, wait a second. That’s just Communism 101. Maoist tyranny 101.”
Tom: Well, we’re fed this from the media, all the time, about if we’re protecting the children or protecting the public health, like in this case. It’s like if we’re against what they’re saying, then you’re against protecting the public health or protecting the public from themselves. Which, that goes against my viewpoint of what being free is. Like Nick pointed out, we have a sense of responsibility that we have to take as citizens to be responsible for our actions. Just because we’re free doesn’t make it free for us to do anything we want to. On the other hand, when we have the Department of Public Health and these officials who want to protect us from ourselves, I want no part of that. We have to take that responsibility to tell them that we don’t need it, and we have to take that responsibility to tell our legislators – who we have elected to represented, not these agencies – that if this continues, that we need to urge them to actually defund groups like this. There are so many cases of this, just people protecting their jobs. In a state that is going broke. We don’t need to go this route. We need to get back on track and this is a great opportunity for the state to be a leader, for a change, instead of 50th in the nation for everything. Worst job creation, financial condition … California is better than we are, for Pete’s sake. So, we’ve got to do something.
Bill: And they’re trying to put these little guys, who’ve created a little niche for some sales, who are doing service to their community as you said – actually creating community as part of this thing – they’re trying to put them out of business because they’re not big corporate, big ag guys. It’s really a tragedy.
Tom: You know, I’m not disrespecting the pasteurized milk industry. There’s a definite need for mass production to feed the people of this nation, but the choice has to be with the individual consumer. In my particular case, my Dad for instance. He’s 83-years-old, lives by himself. We get him half a gallon of milk once or twice a month and usually by the end of the month, that milk is sour, what he doesn’t drink of that half gallon. I purchase raw milk in half-gallon containers and I’ve had them in my refrigerator for a month and it’s fine. So, that’s my choice. I like the way it makes me feel. My wife and I, we grow our own food, which most of the plants we get right here at the heirloom market, they’re great locally grown, so we know they’re going to thrive in this zone. I’ve lost 23 pounds since January, just going back to eating good quality food that I know what’s in it, and I know where it comes from. It’s a beautiful thing and it’s my choice. And I want that choice, and so does everyone else that buys it and produces it. It’s a simple thing to ask.
Bill: It’s a simple thing. And guys, we’re running out of time. One of the things I’d suggest our listeners do is go to www.Prairie-Advocate-News.com and read Tom’s four-part series on this. He covers it in detail, if you want to know someone’s documenting tyranny in action. But what we do last, guys, can we give somebody some positive? In other words I think what a lot of people like to do is sort of get mad and say, “Yeah, that’s what they’re doing.” What’s positive, if you’re in the state of Illinois, what can you do? Get ahold of your representatives, as you’re saying, and make sure that’s an issue to them?
Tom: That is a key point. I think, thank you for the website information, we have a video posted of this Bloomington meeting of the public comments, that is I think a great way to see what these people are actually about. The consumers and the raw milk farmers. It is a real grassroots effort. These people gave up valuable time on their farms and some of them at their jobs to be at their meeting. That’s how important it was. And these people are extremely well educated. Their facts are flawless. I almost, to some degree, felt sorry for the folks in the Department of Public Health. They really were taken to the shed on this one. So we need to be in contact with our representation in the state, because that is where it starts. If the people don’t speak up now, it’s our own fault that this will continue. These proposals are bad.
Bill: And they say, freedom has a cost, and it is this sense of eternal vigilance, right? You’ve got to be on your game and you’ve got to say at some point, no, no more. Guys, thanks a lot for joining me today and we appreciate your time, and also with respect to our listener, we know your time is valuable as well. We’d like to thank you for spending it with us.